✪Gold Up In My Teeth
The world was seemingly picture-perfect as the war had ended and the beginning of the Baby Boom struck. Soldiers were finally home and families were happier again.
At the end of the block at an outdoor cafe sat the young male named Kurt Danes. Sipping at his coffee and reading the newspaper just like every other young male surrounding him. Deep blue eyes scanning the words on the page. Tuning out the world around him as he found an interesting article that took all of his attention. He had gotten so into the said article he was reading that he didn’t even hear the rushing footfalls that were approaching him.
Kurt didn’t fully snap back into reality until he felt a presence hovering over him. Furrowing a bit all he did was raise a hand up and swatted the air. Indicating that whoever it was needed to leave his area. That of course backfired when he suddenly felt a smack to the back of his head. Finally letting down his paper he looked over to the young male who had his arms crossed and was looking annoyed at Kurt.
The male, who was in fact a good friend of Kurt’s, rolled his eyes before he huffed a breath and took off his hat. Walking over to the other side of the table and sitting down across from Kurt.
Shawn Wexler. Good friends with Kurt and was seeming like he had been very troubled. Moving back in the chair he crossed his arms and kept his brown eyes on his friend.
“‘Oh hiya’? What the hell are ya doing out here anyway?”
Asking in a rather sharp and annoyed tone. He had a bit of an accent as he was born in New York City. Born in Brooklyn, grew up in Queens and now was living and working in Manhattan. New York ran through the boy’s blood. It was his life and pretty much all he knew.
“It’s eight in the mornin’ on a Tuesday. Shouldn’t you be at work?”
“Shouldn’t you? That or extracting that big stick up your ass.”
Kurt on the other hand was originally from Oklahoma. Which was basically the complete opposite of the city life. When they two met they butted heads since Kurt couldn’t handle Shawn’s ways at first. But in time he learned to get used to it and now after being in the city for a few years. He’s grown to have a slight edge himself. But only when necessary and usually he wasn’t serious.
Whatever Shawn or anyone else from the city would throw at him. Kurt was quick to hit them back with a remark of his own.
Shawn eyed his friend for a few seconds and then heaved another sigh. Uncrossing his arms and pulling himself up in his chair. Gently yanking at the hemming of his suit jacket a bit.
“Um, I don’t really know how t’say this delicately so I’ll just say it. I woke up a single man. Layla hit the road an’ I ain’t got the slightest clue what happened or where she went.”
“What?! Oh, man. I take back that stick up your ass remark.”
“Nah, I mean it’s true honestly.”
“So...what happened exactly?”
“Not sure. I mean she was there when I got home last night. Then I woke up to her side empty as well as her half of the closet.”
Kurt shook his head and folded up his newspaper. Sitting back in his chair he grabbed his cup and downed the rest of his coffee.
“That’s insanity. Shit. I gotta let Jimmy know.”
“Oh god do not tell Jimmy.”
“You know him. He’ll come up with some crazy-ass harebrained scheme that’ll probably get us all arrested. /Again/.”
Pushing out the chair Shawn moved to stand and grabbed his hat. Placing it back on his head he gestured Kurt to come along with him. Then as soon as Kurt stood up the two began down the busy and seemingly never-ending streets of Manhattan. While they walked they continued to talk amongst each other. Discussing what to do next now that Shawn was newly single and basically had to start his life over. One thing he wasn’t ready for was explaining the situation to the rest of their friend group. Worse than that was having to tell his family.
The Wexler family was anything but modern. Or Shawn’s parents weren’t anyway. All he knew for sure that they believed in marriage no matter what and that leaving just wasn’t an option. They also thought that starting life over while already grown was “ridiculous” and just plain crazy. However, Shawn had to tell them nonetheless before they started asking where his absent wife was and he didn’t have an answer. So Shawn had to do what he had to do. Swallowing whatever pride he had left and gone off the tell his family.
He parted ways with Kurt, who offered to tag along for moral support, but Shawn declined. Deciding that it was his problem and so he had to handle it alone. at least that’s what /he/ believed.
After being let in by the doorman of the apartment complex building. Shawn waited for the elevator and greeted the lift attendant. Engaging in some small talk with the other tenants as he rode up to his parents’ floor. Once he was let off he tipped his hat to the others and headed down the hallway to his parents’ door. Ringing the bell he waited to be let in by one of the maids followed by his mother.
“Hello, Ma. Gee don’t you look lovely today.”
“No hats inside.”
Nodding once Shawn took off his hat and hung it on the coat rack beside the door. Along with his suit jacket. Then just as he was going to speak with his mother she walked right out of the foyer. Dropping his head and huffing a sigh, Shawn walked into the main part of the very large and extravagant apartment. Lifting his head again he loosened his tie a little and crossed his arms. Looking around he walked over to the front room and stood in the middle of the floor.
“Hello? One of your kids is present and would like to speak with ya!”
Just then Shawn looked over and finally managed to make eye contact with his mother. For only a few seconds. Then she went off walking again but remained in earshot.
“Goodness Shawn Calvin, what is that accent?”
“I went t’public school in Queens Ma what did ya expect? Where’s my father, I gotta talk to the both of ya.”
“Just say it what you need us both for?”
“Because it’s important an’ a serious matter. If ya gave me just five minutes. Where are ya going now? Ma!”
Shawn groaned and followed his mother and tried to keep up with her. Tailing behind her as she moved about fast in the apartment. Shawn wasn’t exactly sure what she was doing but most of the time he never did. Regardless he tried to gain at least half of her attention for just a simple minute. He followed close behind his mother until both of them were stopped by Shawn’s father.
“Elenor are you aware that your son is playing tag with you in the kitchen?”
“I’ve been tryin’ to get her attention an’ for her t’sit still for three minutes. I have to talk to you. Both of you.”
“May we take this into the living room?”
Shawn gestured before going ahead and walking over to the living room. Making sure both of his parents were following him as he stopped in the middle of the room. Asking for his parents to sit down. His mother did for only twenty seconds before saying that something needed to be done. But then both Shawn and his father told her to stay and to sit for a minute. Then both of his parents asked Shawn what it was that he was so eager to tell them.
“Oh um. Well okay... not sure how to really put this but uh. Welp, I woke up to my wife gone.”
Shawn waited as he watched his parents stare at him in total silence. Eyes wide and it looked as if they both stopped breathing. Shawn cringed a little and took a step back. Looking out the window behind him for a moment and then back forward again. They were still just staring at him in what he assumed was a total shock. He waited a few more seconds before the silence was finally broken by his mother’s voice. She spoke out faintly and finally blinked. Shaking her head.
“What... what do you mean ‘gone’?”
“I’m... not sure. She left me I guess...”
“Why would she do that? I knew you should’ve had kids. She wouldn’t have left if you had kids.”
“Thanks, Ma that’s excellent encouragement.”
“Have you tried going back to her? Ask what you did wrong and for forgiveness?”
Shawn’s father chimed in. But all that did was make Shawn roll his eyes and drop his head for a second. Lifting it back up he tried to better explain.
“I don’t know where she is. I said she was gone after I woke up. Indicating that she left while I was /asleep/. I ain’t got a number or nothin’.”
“God if you didn’t have that atrocious accent she wouldn’t have left in the first place!”
“Well I’m in a tender place right now and apparently so are you two. I’ll let myself out.”
Shawn finalized as he heaved yet another sigh and left the living room to the foyer. Grabbing his jacket he draped it over his arm and put his hat back on his head and just like that left the apartment. Taking the stairs this time Shawn quickly rushed down the steps and out the back door of the building.
Walking back into the city streets again Shawn didn’t lose momentum until he made it back to his own place which was hopefully still his. Marching up the front steps of the townhouse Shawn entered his front door and set his jacket and hat down. Instantly finding that the mail had been delivered and pushed through the slot. Kneeling down Shawn picked up the envelopes and looked through them. Taking out the ones that had his name out of the pile. Grabbing the letter-opener he went through the papers and skimmed everything.
Casually sauntering into his living room as he read through the rest of his mail. He crossed over to his kitchenette and tossed the letters and bills and such into the trash bin. Pushing out a breath with the trill of his lips, he swung his arms as he strolled aimlessly around in his living room.
In all honesty, Shawn was lost out of his mind and had no idea how to handle any of it. He had put up a tough front but it was hitting him pretty hard. As much as he wanted to keep it together he wasn’t sure how much more he could take. His parents were of no help but that was something he expected. They weren’t really the best people to get along with or the most supportive. Especially when it came to Shawn. He wasn’t necessarily the best kid to have and got into all sorts of trouble all of the time. Regardless for some unknown reason he figured his wife leaving him would cause some sort of reaction and for Shawn’s parents to be on his side for once. But they had just proven otherwise and it hit pretty damn hard.
Moving over to the sofa Shawn fell right into it and sprawled himself out. Rolling his eyes he let out a long frustrated groan. Taking one of the throw-pillows he placed it over his face and yelled into it. Throwing it back off of his face he stared up at the ceiling until he fell back asleep.
Slowly fading out of what was supposed a peaceful nap. Shawn had been woken up by the sound of loud knocking coming from his front door. Still in a groggy state Shawn groaned and moved to face the back of the sofa.
‘It’s me, Jimmy. C’mon open up!’
The voice rang out muffled from the large wooden door. Shawn moved back to look at the ceiling above. Lazily draping his forearm on his forehead and pushing out yet another and more frustrated groan.
“Oh, Jimmy! Fuck off, Jimmy!”
After a few seconds of silence, it had been disrupted when the sound of Shawn’s door flying open echoed through the air. Shawn mumbled a few swears to himself and shook his head. Moving his feet off of the sofa and onto the floor he swung his body to sit up and immediately rested his face in his hands.
Jimmy on the other hand left the door wide open as he entered the townhouse. Heading straight into the kitchenette as if it were his own house and grabbing one of the muffin’s Shawn’s now ex-wife made that previous evening. Taking a bite he looked around a few minutes before turning around to face the door. Hearing running feet stamp up the front steps and enter the doorway. Breathing a little heavily, Kurt walked in and shut the door behind himself.
“I’m sorry Shawnie, he got away from me.”
“Oh ha-ha. I’m not fuckin’ three years old.”
“What’re ya doin’ in my house, James?”
Shawn let out with some gravel in his voice. Lifting his face out of his hands and looking up at his two friends. Then crossing his arms he sat back and leaned on the back of the sofa. Waiting to see what it was that Jimmy had planned /this/ time.
James Devlin. Although a close friend to both Shawn and Kurt. Shawn sometimes wanted to say otherwise. Jimmy was constantly coming up with crazy ideas and outrageous harebrained schemes that often got the boys in trouble. Some were mild but a lot was not and ended up with serious consequences. It didn’t take long for Shawn to realize why in the hell he bothered wasting any of his time with Jimmy. The two have known each other since elementary school back when they lived in Queens. But even then Jimmy was coming up with new ways to get the two into detention or even worse.
Back then Shawn too lived for that thrill. Coming up with countering ideas and discussing which would get them caught and which wouldn’t.
It never mattered. They always got caught.
Each week was something new and the two would sit back and talk about the funny pranks rather than schoolwork. However, after growing up and getting married Shawn thought those days were over. He figured since Jimmy was drafted that he too would end it. But he was wrong and when Jimmy got back home he jumped right back into it. Oddly enough so did Shawn and now they had Kurt to drag along with them.
Shawn would often lecture Jimmy and tell him that he didn’t want to be a part of it. Yet at the same time, he always wound up right there by Jimmy’s side all over again. Sometimes they even stood side by side in a jail cell. It was ridiculous and even downright insane but deep down maybe Shawn was still living for the adventure after all. He wondered if that was what drove his wife Layla away. But he snapped out of that thought before he could delve into it any further.
Shaking his head a little he uncrossed his arms and looked back up to Jimmy.
“I said. I heard about what happened and have come to help. Just to get your mind off of shit for a while. Forget about her, she was nothin’.”
“It didn’t happen that long about Jimmy I’m still in love with her.”
“Okay. Hows about this? We wait. Give it two weeks. Maybe we’ll hear from her. If not then give you six months to pack up your shit and move on. I’m talking a new place, hell maybe even a new Borough. We ain’t sittin’ around forever. Fourteen days m’friend. Deal?”
Shawn looked up at Jimmy for a few seconds. Right before he pushed himself up to his feet. Moving his hands to his trouser pockets. Taking what all that Jimmy said into consideration. For once the man was actually sounding reasonable. It sounded like a real plan and even a good one. Shawn knew that he couldn’t wait around all of his life. No matter how much he was hurting now. Jimmy knew that Shawn wasn’t that kind of person. He played off as being so strong and unbothered. Which wasn’t always a good thing, but it helped him get things done.
He had time to fall back and let it sink in. He had a couple of weeks to take some time and to really think. To be by himself and recollect himself. To break if he needed to and to pick himself back up again. On the other hand, there was the possibility that he would hear from his wife again and in that would be another turmoil in on itself. However, since he wasn’t going to be one hundred percent sure on that matter, Shawn didn’t think too much about it.
Shaking his head he removed his hands from his pockets. If that did happen and he heard from Layla again then things would have to shift. But that would only be a problem /if/ it were to happen.
Nodding he huffed out a breath and looked over to Jimmy.
Jimmy beamed excitedly and went over to give Shawn a friendly handshake and before he and Kurt left again. Just like that the clock began and Shawn decided to take off his suit and just have the day to himself.
Soon the two weeks had gone by without a single word from Layla and Shawn slowly began to move on with his life. Working extra hours at his work in advertising and spending a lot of time in the offices. The weeks continued and before he knew it a month had gone by and then six. Still working through everything Shawn really buckled down and started looking for a new place all on his own for the first time.
It felt a little odd at first since he went from living with his parents to going off to school, to being married. However, it wasn’t really something that was that big of a deal in the end. He had gone through countless options but soon enough Shawn had found a place that he wanted to call his own. It was an apartment but a nice one and he was still able to stay in Manhattan and close to work. As soon as he looked it over and was granted the keys. Shawn gathered up his friends and moved all of his things out of the old townhouse and into the apartment.
One by one, box after box, it was a long hard and a rather dreadful day. There were some efforts from Jimmy livening things up and it in fact came in handy. Once they stopped for a while and goofed off as they used to do. The day ended up going a lot faster. But the work took longer than it probably should have. But if Shawn were, to be honest with himself, it was all worth it.
After a few weeks, Shawn was completely settled in and things really were starting to look up again. There still wasn’t any word from Layla but Shawn was preoccupied with other things and didn’t allow himself to overthink on that matter. Then before he knew it time went on and it had been over a year and Shawn was becoming a little happier in his life. He lost a lot and he knew that. It would be something that would always haunt the back of his mind, yet at the same time, he managed to gain a lot as well. He had gotten promoted and was doing well at his job. He had a new place to call his own. He even got back in touch with his siblings.
There were times when he did wonder about Layla and would even try to find a way to contact her. But he later discovered that she probably didn’t want to be contacted. However, by that point, all Shawn really wanted was some closure and an explanation. He wasn’t sure if it was something on her or if he did something wrong. If it was him he would want to know in order to improve, and if it was on her he simply wanted to know what it was. Lastly, he just wanted one final goodbye. Just a verbal one that meant something. Shawn no longer really wanted anything else from Layla anymore, but he did want those things and was a little upset that he’ll probably never get them.
He didn’t stay upset for long and much like how it’s been. Shawn gathered himself and got back to work and living his own life.
Days were growing longer and hours seemed endless. At his desk, Shawn looked through the folders and each individual advertisement campaign. Checking the artwork and seeing if they would work or not. If not, then they’d get tossed in the trash bin. If they did then Shawn would pick up the phone and call the stations. Getting the times for when the adverts would show and on which television program. A rather long and definitely boring process. However, it was important and what helped made the world go round. Nonetheless, it wasn’t something that was exactly Shawn’s favorite pastime. Usually, he liked to be up and moving and not spending long hours sitting at its desk. But he figured someone had to do it and he was good at it.
Setting the receiver back on the base. Shawn heaved out a long sigh and fell back into his chair. Groaning to himself and swaying the swivel of the chair side to side. Closing his eyes and groaning yet again as he heard the phone begin to ring again.
Pulling himself up he reached for the receiver and put it up to his ear. Before he could say something he heard a familiar voice on the other line.
Shawn called out as he sprung up to his feet. Listening closely to what she had to say on the other line. Nodding to her words and moving out from behind his desk.
“Y-you wanna meet with me? To... to talk? Yes, sure. But um, I moved here lemme give you the address.”
Shawn gave out his newer address to Layla over the phone and wrote down the time she wanted to meet with him. He nodded and said that he would hope to see her real soon and asked if she was alright. Glad to hear that she was doing just fine. He ended the phone-call and placed the receiver back onto the base.
Right before he picked it up again and spun the correct numbers on the rotary. Placing it back up to his ear again he waited for an answer.
“Kurt! Come t’my office now!... No, I’m not firin’ ya just come up here!”
Slamming the receiver back into the base. Shawn took a second and debated on whether or not he wanted to call Jimmy next. But after thinking about it for a couple of moments he decided against it. Everything was necessarily going “according to plan” and having Layla physically come over was definitely not part of the plan. He was only supposed to give it two weeks and that’d be it. But that was well over a year ago and that was the very first time Shawn had heard from her.
After Kurt came into Shawn’s office he told him everything. Then Kurt chimed in and asked if meeting with her after not hearing anything for so long was a good idea. That made Shawn stop and think for a while. In all truth, he wasn’t sure if it was a good idea or not. He came to realize that his excitement and curiosity got the better of him and it made him say “Yes” right away.
Shawn also started having some questions and even questioning himself and his own feelings. It made him wonder if he was still in love with Layla. He never got his proper goodbye or explanation. Maybe that was what Layla was coming back for. Or possibly she needed some time to herself and was now thinking of coming back home and to Shawn. Even though he had been trying all of this time to let it all go and get over her. Deep down he hoped that she was coming back to stay for good.
He didn’t tell Kurt any of that and just said that he only said yes because he was curious. But Shawn could tell that Kurt knew that wasn’t the truth and also noticed that Shawn’s behavior was expressing that he was excited and wanted her back. However, the two kept silent and just started to lock up the building for the night and head out.
In some ways, Shawn hated to admit that he felt that way. He spent so much time and effort to rebuild his own life. Now it felt as if it was crashing down on top of him. Falling back into old habits and bending over backward just to keep himself from not being so alone. It was silly but that was exactly what Shawn did. When he thought about it the marriage might not have been as picture-perfect as he thought. He wasn’t too sure, but he didn’t want to think about it too much.
Setting those thoughts aside Shawn walked with Kurt up to the front of his apartment building. Shawn had told Kurt that he didn’t have to come with him but Kurt insisted and oddly enough Shawn didn’t argue. Simply shrugging it off the two went inside and rode the elevator up to Shawn’s floor then down to the front door. Shawn hesitated a second but then went for the handle and opened the door.
As the two entered Shawn pulled off his jacket and set down his keys. Looking around he tried to spot any sight of Layla. But there wasn’t anything.
“She’s probably just a little late. Y’know how busy the trains get at this hour.”
The boys soon got more comfortable and waited. Then waited, and waited some more. They played cards, watched some television programs, and read a few articles in the newspaper. Time kept passing by and there still wasn’t any sign of Layla at all.
“Look Shawnie, it’s getting pretty late. I hate to say this but I don’t think she’s coming.”
“No, no maybe she got lost.”
“I think she stood you up.”
Shawn took a moment and heaved a long-winded sigh. Shaking his head he leaned on the counter and placed a hand on his face. Sliding it back down he pounded a fist onto the countertop.
“Damnit! She can’t do this t’me! After a fuckin’ year, after leavin’ me in the middle of the night while I’m asleep! /This/ is how she repays me!”
“I know! I’m sorry man. Really.”
“What did I do that was so wrong?”
Before Kurt could try and respond the boys looked over as they heard a knock on the door. Kurt looked over to Shawn and he hesitated a bit. Heaving out another breath he went over to the front door and slowly opened it.
“Since when d’you knock?”
“Jimmy, what are you doing here?”
“Well, a fine hello to you guys too.”
Jimmy moved over to the side and let himself in. Rolling his eyes Shawn glanced down the hall a second before closing the door behind him. Then he turned around and followed Jimmy into his living area.
“What is it this time Devlin?”
“Alright, get ready for this one because it’s really big.”
“Ah shit, we’re gonna wind up in prison.”
“What? No, will ya just listen to me a second? I heard of this place called the Central Intelligence Agency. The government doesn’t want us t’know about it but I have got a plan to check it out.”
“I stand corrected. You want us in federal prison.”
“Will ya stop brinin’ up prison! Look, we could be just what they’re lookin’ for. I was out there they could use guys like us!”
“Okay, first of all, James, you were never in combat. Secondly, are you fuckin’ insane?!”
Jimmy just stood perfectly still and eyed Shawn in a harsh glare. Shaking his head a little as he kept his intense look on his friend.
“Y’know all I wanted was t’help give you a second chance. After getting ditched in the middle of the night an’ then stood up.”
“How did you know about that?”
“Unlike you, I knew that was gonna happen. I knew from the start. She never cared.”
“Shut up Jimmy.”
“She probably never really loved you.”
That was it.
Shawn’s face twitched and he quickly went over to Jimmy and shoved him down.
Letting out a grunt as he hit the linoleum floor. He raised a hand to stop Kurt from going over and helping him up. Instead, he pulled himself up onto his feet and kept some distance between him and Shawn.
“They could use that anger.”
“Fine! All I wanted was to be there for ya an’ do good for once. To give ya second chance like I just said. Then maybe you could stop this tough guy act an’ get to be a real one for once. Instead of bein’ some joke.”
Jimmy brushed himself off and went to the door. Swinging it open he stormed out of the apartment.
Shawn watched him leave and then stopped for a second. He stopped being annoyed, he stopped pretending, he stopped thinking. Huffing out a breath he shook his head and darted out the door. Looking down the hall and running over to Jimmy. Catching him before the elevator doors opened.
“I don’t wanna hear it, Shawn.”
“Wait yes you do.”
Just then the elevator doors slid open and Jimmy went right in. But before the doors could close again, Shawn put his hands up at each side and held the elevator open.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I’ll do it!”
“The Central Intelligence thing. The second chance thing...I’ll do it. I have to do it.”